I've been having a sentence burning its way into my heart and mind lately. It comes to me at times when I see something on Facebook or the internet that gives me a flash of anger...a flow of self-righteousness...an argument on my lips and in my heart. It comes to me when someone who disagrees with me says something sharp and pointed.
This is the sentence: "It's not about you, Rebecca."
This comes to me again and again. In my sinful flesh, I am so eager to claim I am so righteous, the other person is so wrong, and it's all about me and my opinion! But Jesus has been reminding me over and over again that It's not about me! I can relax. I don't have to prove myself. I don't have to smack down someone's argument. I don't have let everyone know how right I am. I also don't have to be liked. I do have to make an effort to show God's love to people. Because my actions are viewed by one Audience: God.
It's not about me. It's about Jesus and a world full of people who are hurting, just like I am. It's about taking myself out of the way and letting Jesus shine through.
I stink at this a lot of times. I want to claim my Christian rights. I want to be in the spotlight. I want to argue my point. I get all caught up in the claim that poor Christians are so persecuted, forgetting that Christians in America know little of persecution and that even when it does come, Jesus said that it would. I forget the pain of others in trying to force everybody to see my own distress, my own point of view.
Meanwhile, the person I want to argue with is essentially saying to me, "I hear your argument, but I don't hear your love." Or maybe I am trying to listen and they are "giving me no credit for listening"...do I get upset and offended? Or do I listen some more, get to know them, tell the truth about my beliefs but never give up on being their friend? Do I claim my rights to be understood? Or do I remember, "It's not all about me?" Do I see where Christians have hurt them? Do I see a person that God loves? Or just my own ego?
Jesus was firm and unapologetic about His beliefs, but He was also incarnational. He came near to us poor sinners. His truth was something expressed through a relationship. Will I be like Jesus and listen? Or just love the sound of my own voice?
And when I do speak and give witness to God's Word, do I have to be liked? Do I have to be understood? Does it pain me when people don't give me credit for being balanced and nuanced and compassionate? Or do I accept the pain of people's misunderstanding, knowing that God loves them? Do I let myself relax and say, "It's ok. I will do my best to love and to learn from their correction, but I will also be faithful to God. I'll try to change where I need to shed self-righteousness and lovelessness, but I won't go along with people just to be liked. It's ok if they don't understand. It's ok if I am maligned (as long as it's not because I'm being a jerk!)."
Over and over again, Jesus says to me, "It's not about you, Rebecca." I'm learning to listen. It might take me a lifetime...